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Outside of Hindu culture, the word "yoga" is usually understood to refer to the practice of meditative movement and bodily postures. However, this is only one type of yoga, whose full name is Hatha Yoga. Hatha Yoga is one of the paths that lead to the ultimate goal of Raja Yoga, or contemplation of the One Reality.
Hatha Yoga was first propagated by Swami Swatamarama, a yogic sage of the 15th century in India. Hatha (pronounced "ha-
The Practice and Meaning of Hatha Yoga
The purpose of Hatha Yoga is to locate and activate the chakras (centers of energy), thereby raising the kundalini (dominant spiritual power). This in turn is believed to help remove blockages (disease) in the mind and body.
Hatha yoga attempts to balance mind and body via physical postures and exercises (asanas), controlled breathing, and the calming of the mind through relaxation and meditation. Asanas teach poise, balance & strength and were originally (and still) practiced to improve the body's physical health and clear the mind in preparation for meditation in the pursuit of enlightenment.
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